Since their entry to Japan in the latter half of the 19th century, coffee and coffee shops have been closely linked to the economic, political, and socio-cultural change undergone by the Japanese society. The cafés themselves have gone through numerous transformations in order to address the various social needs of their patrons. Today, coffee shops occupy a significant niche in the Japanese urban lifestyle. However, the cultural ‘baggage' of coffee as a foreign commodity still plays a central role in generating its consumer appeal. Coffee is a global commodity whose value on the world market is surpassed only by oil. Moreover, due to its peculiar historical background, it became a beverage charged with a wide range of cultural meanings; tracing these meanings in different contexts can shed light on the way cultural commodities ‘behave' in the globalized world. In order to examine the niche that coffee occupies in the Japanese consumption scene, I will analyze the manner in which representations of coffee are constructed and translated into a consumer experience. Through the case of coffee in Japan I will try to demonstrate the process of ‘movement of culture', whereby the relevance of a foreign commodity in the local context is determined by the complex interplay between two culturally engineered binary entities of ‘global' and ‘local', ‘foreign' and ‘native'.